Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Golden Wok & Louisiana Fried Chicken -- 1725 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91768

My Meal Cost: $7.06. Health Rating A. Yelp 3 stars

First things first. A search for restaurants through Google Maps shows a Subway store in the Pomona Valley Medical Center. Since there is no signage on Garey and it is inside the hospital proper I decided that it didn't qualify for this blog. However, it is there so . . . 

The gentleman at the next table must have come from the hospital as he sported a bandage wrap around his elbow as if he had had blood drawn.

Golden Wok is one of those places close to the neighborhood that we've gone to often. The lovely Mrs. C always refers to it as "the donut shop" because prior to her retirement it was the place she would drive-thru for a croissant or pastry on her way to work when she was too late to make breakfast. I, on the other hand would stop by there when I had a craving for Chinese fast food so I think I've had all the dishes on the ubiquitous steam table with the combo of fried rice and chow mien along with some veggies or beef broccoli and either orange chicken, teriyaki chicken, mushroom chicken, etc. But in all the times I've been going there I've never availed myself of the burgers, specialty coffee drinks, bagel or croissant sandwiches, or Louisiana Fried Chicken. Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken is a licensing deal which uses the same recipe in independently owned sites nation-wide.

The location is in an older donut shop with a long counter, display cases, steam table, a condiments counter and a bunch of small tables and booths for dining in. They also sell lottery tickets and have the current payouts posted in neon in their windows. A real everything all-rolled-up in one kind of place AND it has a 24-hour drive-thru window for those late night, early morning cravings.

For this post I decided to go ahead and try the Louisiana Fried Chicken. I got a 2-piece meal, which would be a wing and thigh, but substituted a breast for an additional 99 cents. This came with a small drink and fries. I asked to upgrade my drink to a medium and the woman behind the counter did so and didn't charge me extra (very nice).

The food was ready in about 10 minutes. The chicken had been sitting in a warming oven under heat lamps, but they had to make the fries so it took a little bit. I was asked if I wanted fried rice or fries (I chose fries because I couldn't quite visualize fried rice with a southern style chicken), hot sauce and/or ketchup. Since I don't like ketchup on my fries I opted for just the hot sauce. This was a Louisiana style vinegary type sauce, very thin and very vinegary with a bit of punch. Presentation, as you can tell from the photo left a bit to be desired. Once I took the photo I needed to move the fries to the side and the biscuit as well.

I'm a fan of Popeye's spicy chicken and wondered how this would compare. The spice on the chicken was not as good as that on the Popeye's. I note that while Louisiana Chicken has stores in Texas, they don't actually have any in Louisiana and from a trip to New Orleans I know that Popeye's are all over the place there. I see why.

The wing was good. The breading was crisp and there was enough meat on the bones to make it acceptable. However the breast appeared to have been under the heat lamps too long. What appeared to be a nicely browned, crunchy breading/skin, turned out to be somewhat damp (from the chicken juices sitting too long?) and the meat was not nearly as juicy as Donahoo's, nor was it as fresh. Same is true in comparing to Popeye's (there's one on Indian Hill near American, just south of the 10 freeway) which has really good New Orleans style side dishes (including red beans and rice, mac & cheese, and jambalaya).

I think that the next time I go there I'll probably revert to the Chinese fast food or a donut and if I want chicken go to Donahoo's or Popeye's.

UP NEXT:  Alberto's Mexican Food

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mamma Mia Pizza -- 1637 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $11.97. Health Rating A. Yelp 3 stars

I was trying to get back on a Monday schedule so visited this site yesterday (Monday) at a little after 12:00 noon only to find the door locked and no signs of life around despite a check on Yelp saying that they opened at 10:00 am. I worried that they had closed permanently but decided to try again today (Tuesday) and if it wasn't open to just move on up Garey to the Donut|Chinese Food|Louisiana Chicken place. But to my surprise as I drove up the door was open and I was able to get pizza. I did ask the girl at the counter (whose English was not very good) why they were closed yesterday, but she denied that they were closed at all. I think it must have been a language thing.

Because this is one of the closest pizza places to home, we tried it about 10 years ago and had a bad experience so hadn't been back since. My understanding is that they have changed owners/operators several times since then so it was a little different experience than last time.

The place has no seating and is take-out only with a few chairs for those who wait. The outside is dingy and their anti-graffiti film makes seeing inside impossible (see note from Donahoos). The menu is several sizes of pizzas, wings, garlic bread, nachos, and canned or bottled sodas. Serviceable, but not extensive.

In order to properly judge it against the other pizza places to the south, I ordered my go-to sausage and mushroom pizza as a small (usually a small comes with only 1 topping but they were happy to add a topping) and the chicken wings. They only have one kind of wings (a mild buffalo) but when I asked I was told that the wings came 10 to an order or a half order of 5 (again I think it was a language thing, or perhaps I've now gone to so many places that I'm mumbling). I was told that the wait time would be 12 minutes and that's about what it was.

The girl at the counter was pleasant and efficient. Since I always have a supply of Cherry Coke Zero at home, I decided to not purchase a beverage. So I headed home with pizza and wings. 

The pizza was one of the cheesiest that I've ever had. Lots of cheese. The crust was decent, not too thick and bready, but thick enough to hold that toppings without going limp. The amount of mushroom was a little disappointing but there was sausage in every bite and the sausage was a good mild Italian. Add a little of the red pepper flakes and it was quite enjoyable. Since I was home, The Lovely Mrs. C decided to try a small slice and declared it to be "acceptable but nothing special."

The wings were meaty and juicy but the sauce was somewhat mild for a buffalo wing (but then the menu only said "wings" so they could have had no sauce and who could complain?). It came with some ranch dressing to which I actually added some red pepper flakes to make the wings a little more spicy (I think the sauce is supposed to "tame" the wings but in this case I used it to "untame" them a bit). Of the five two of them were the drumettes so it was properly proportioned.

Overall not great, but not bad either. I do think that on those rare (only a couple of times a year) occasions when we do pizza we'll probably continue to drive quite a way further, often to Claremont and Pizza 'n Such.

UP NEXT: Louisiana Chicken & Golden Wok

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Del Taco -- 1495 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $10.45. Health Rating A. Yelp 2 stars

Still in my home neighborhood, this is the closest of the places I'll be going to. Only 350 steps from front door to front door. A quick walk for some fast food. Or so one would hope. Unfortunately, the wait once I got in the doors was something else. I did go during the lunch rush and there was quite the line-up at the drive-thru window. I was behind one person in line and it took a good while to get to order. That happens sometimes as the person in front of me wasn't sure what she wanted. However, based on the time stamp on my receipt and when my number was called, I had to wait a full 11 minutes. Not speedy for sure, especially if I had been on a tight lunch break. I actually bothered to look at my watch when I realized that they were calling much lower order numbers of people who weren't in line when I got there.

You order at the window and there are menus above, like with most fast food places. The place was fairly clean, although while I was there the face on the soda dispenser was stacked next to it and you stared into a bare florescent tube as you dispensed your drink, and while there was a young man sweeping, he stepped over a soda spill on the flour several times without mopping it up.

There is nice, adequate seating in the dining area.

Since this place is close, it is somewhere that I go to from time to time for a quick meal. Not first choice, but most convenient. I decided to try one of their new "Epic" burritos. I was intrigued by the steak | potato | and bacon version so ordered it as a combo and got a medium beverage with it. I also decided to order two of the Del Tacos (their original crunchy ground beef taco with lettuce, tomato, and cheese) as well as a cup of beans with cheese (this item wasn't on the menu, but I've had it there many times so just asked for it). Their beverage machine had Coke Zero (which uses Splenda instead of Equal which is in diet Coke) which is my preference.

My meal before eating

With a few bites out of the burrito so that you could see the interior.

The burrito was interesting. I was expecting, not sure why, the potatoes to be roasted cubes of potato, instead what was in there were crinkle-cut French fries. Didn't really taste bacon, couldn't distinguish it from the beef in the filling. The "steak" was more like burnt ends of a roast or something. VERY well done and dried out. Really needed some hot sauce to add some moisture to the whole thing. Their were more fries than anything else, so I wasn't too disappointed (again, my potato obsession), but not really what I expected from this burrito. The tacos were the classic American style taco that I grew up on (as a transplanted Midwesterner at the age of 5 this was the only "Mexican" food I know beside chili con carne in a can). Simple, yet enjoyable. And I also had my beans and cheese in a cup which I mix with some hot sauce (in this case Inferno).

Del Taco also has some street tacos, churros, a wide selection of burritos and the regular Americanized Mexican food you would expect. Many steps below the more authentic taco places such as Tacos Mexico and DeAnda Tacqueria previously reviewed.

UP NEXT: Mamma Mia Pizza

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Donahoo’s Golden Chicken -- 1074 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $14.37 (for 2). Health Rating A. Yelp 4 stars

This week I was once again in my Lincoln Park neighborhood so was able to walk the approximately 1000 steps (smart watches / fitbits have taken over our lives) to Donahoo's Chicken.

First a note on why I skipped our own neighborhood Starbucks. I had gone to the Starbucks at Mission Promenade, which has indoor and outdoor dining and an indoor space. When trying to decide if I'd eat at Starbucks in the 'hood, I decided against it as they don't prepare food there and with the exception of three small tables, this is mostly a drive-thru version of the chain. I know it's arbitrary, but hey, it's my blog. I have had coffee and a breakfast sandwich there and have eaten at the tables, so I can say that it's as good as any Starbucks drive-thru I've been at.

Back to Donahoos. I came by for lunch today (Tuesday). They do not have tables, nor anywhere to dine inside or out. This is strictly take-out food. AND, they are cash only, which means you either need to bring some folding money or use their usurious ATM machine.

I had actually had the Donahoo's chicken years ago when I worked in Pomona (1970s) and again when I married the Lovely Mrs. C, and we lived in east Pomona near Indian Hill, but it was when we moved to Lincoln Park that the cravings began. When the weather is just right, the smell of frying chicken permeates the entire neighborhood (including 1000 steps away), causing salivary flow and craving that must be addressed. That's how I think of Donahoo's chicken. The current owners have been there for about 6 years and, as far as I can tell, are still using the same recipe that I enjoyed back in the '70s. About once every 6 weeks or so, we will trek across Columbia to Garey for 2 breasts of chicken and a side (usually their cole slaw with a dollop of golden raisins on top). 

For this posting I decided to order my favorite chicken breast (one for me, one for the Lovely Mrs. C) and to go outside my comfort zone, a dozen fired chicken livers. For years, those who like chicken livers have raved about how wonderful both the livers and gizzards are at Donahoo's. For me, I've never been a chicken (or cow) liver fan at all, but decided to give them a try. Be warned. While Donahoo's is known for getting your order to you in a manner of minute (often before you've even finishing handing over the cash) the livers and gizzards require an extra 7 minutes to prepare. They are not cooked in the same deep fryer as the regular chicken, but are fried on the stove top in a heavy cast iron skillet.

I also ordered a side of mashed potatoes (I've already talked about my potato obsession) and the livers came with one of their signature HUGE rolls.

The potatoes are excellent, not runny like the instant mashed potatoes at a certain southern military franchise, with a nice rich brown gravy (although I would have liked a little more of the gravy). The roll was very good (and large) and since I brought it home I could slather it with butter. The livers . . . again, I'm not a liver fan so these were not something that I would probably have again. Having said that the portion (the menu said 12 but I swear that there were about twice that many) was very large. I ate about 6 of them (with LOTS left over--don't worry they won't go to waste as our Terrier, Lady, has decided she's a big fan), and they were crunchy, with a mild liver flavor, not overly greasy and the breading was as good as on the chicken although seemingly cooked a little longer for an extra crispiness. The chicken breast was golden brown with a crispy crust and skin and moist tender meat.

As an aside, I happened to run into Mayoral Candidate Tim Sandoval (who I serve with on the Pomona Public Library Foundation, as directors) while I was there who was being followed by Pomona Proud and Eye on Pomona who captured us ordering lunch from one of Pomona's favorite spots. While I usually don't run into anyone I know on these treks, this one turned into a media frenzy which you can see on EyeOnPomona, or Pomona Proud.

I'll definitely be going back again in the near future. This is a go-to place for a quick meal when you just don't want to cook. Just make sure you've got cash on hand.

UP NEXT: Del Taco